Oregon faith-healing couple found guilty of manslaughter

Published September 30th, 2011 by Bobby Henderson


From kwtx:

Dale and Shannon Hickman of Oregon City, Ore., who prayed for their ailing prematurely born son rather than seeking medical care, have been found guilty of felony manslaughter.

Prosecutors claimed Shannon Hickman never sought prenatal care and the couple never considered taking the premature infant to the hospital.

The child was born with a bacterial infection and underdeveloped lungs and died within nine hours after he had trouble breathing.

The Hickmans’ attorney claimed religious persecution and said there was no evidence that medical care would have saved the baby.

Faith healing is one of those areas where I can ignore it as a so long as it’s affecting themselves.  But it’s very sad when parents are making reckless choices for their kids.  I am happy to see this case worked out and hopefully it will cause some religious groups to do some critical thinking.

Some believe this case illustrates how evil religion is. I wavered on posting the article because that is not the point I wanted to make. More to the point, I believe the Church of FSM is not just another anti-religion club. A lot of us have the view that religion is harmful and antiquated, but a lot of us also accept that a huge number of people feel they get something positive out of their faith and their religious communities.

So I am cautious about posting things that promote the idea that the world would be better off without religion. Because, more than anything, I don’t believe it’s in the scope of the Church of FSM to make that statement.

The point I want to make is this: instead of drawing the line between the religious and non-religious, let’s draw the line between the reasonable and unreasonable. Let’s criticize a culture that values faith over reason, rather than religion itself.

Why? We know plenty of religious people and we realize that the majority of Christians do not reject modern medicine for their children. We personally know people who get something positive from their religious communities and yet still act with reason.

These are the people who might believe in some scripture, but they also realize that their faith does a poor job of explaining the natural world. They are not blinded by faith, they are reasonable. We need these people to promote the value of reason within their communities.

102 Responses to “Oregon faith-healing couple found guilty of manslaughter”

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  1. Nicholas K says:

    You can’t possibly think that this will “cause some religious groups to do some critical thinking.” You can’t possibly think that ANYTHING will cause that.

  2. TiltedHorizon says:

    Christian solidarity only matters when they want to bolster their arguments using numbers; the “we are 3.1 billion strong” argument. Dale and Shannon Hickman and those who believe in faith healing will be labeled not ‘true’ Christians, an anomaly, a misguided splinter group which fell far from the larger & ‘true’ body of Christendom. They will never see themselves in the same light and certainly never contemplate the possibility that this is what happens when doubt is silenced.

  3. Spammyboy says:

    If I stabbed someone, held up their heart to the sun, then threw them, half-alive, down a large flight of stairs, could I claim the prosecution was religious prosecution on the grounds of being Aztec? No-one can use superstition as an excuse for acting criminally. It’s like having one set of laws for atheists and one for Christians.

    • Metal Head says:

      AND a separate sets of laws for each and every religion. Under such system, *everyone* would be treated with some sort of prejudice by the law, not just the atheists or Christians.

  4. Lindamp says:

    I think it is just terribly sad when things like this happen in this day & age. I hope the couple aren’t made into martyrs by their congregation.

  5. Logalmier says:

    Religion is a poison. It seeps into society, corrupting and killing. The child that died will never know what it’s like to exist as a human being.

    • NoodlyTxn says:

      According to their religion, that child started being a human being the moment the egg and sperm united. This particular one never made it to the supposed “age of reason”. I wonder if that child’s parents ever reached the “age of reason”. However, since all children are born with sin, maybe that is the reason they feel justified in letting that child die.

  6. Rotini Mama says:

    When I was a religious person, I prayed for my own peace of mind but sought out medical attention whenever my family needed it. Even in the Bible, there are numerous references to doctors, so I don’t understand people who seek to be healed by faith alone without exhausting all available medical resources. There’s the point of view that science is “of man” rather than “of god,” but there’s also the view that God works through science, and that he saw fit to bring your child into a world and a country in which medical science is available and advanced enough to save your NEWBORN. If this couple believed God gave them their child, then shouldn’t they also have believed he wanted them to act like responsible parents and take care of it?

    • TiltedHorizon says:

      “Even in the Bible, there are numerous references to doctors, so I don’t understand people who seek to be healed by faith alone without exhausting all available medical resources.”

      There are also numerous bible passages which, if taken literally, can be interpreted as proof that god will heal and answer prayer for ‘true’ believers.


      • JT says:

        Why hello Mr. Strawman [argument] is it? Pleased to make your fallacious acquaintance.

        “There are also numerous bible passages which, if taken literally, can be interpreted as proof that god will heal and answer prayer[sic] for ‘true’ believers”.

        Yes and chickens have wings and pigs tails, therefore (insert illogical connotation of choice here). Rotina Mama speaks of her(?) inability to understand the actions of the accused, “I don’t understand” and “shouldn’t they also have believed…?”; her last comment ended with punctuation that denotes an internalized question and NOT a statement of ‘fact’ (true or otherwise). These statements are clearly represented in the body of her response to be viewed as based upon her own reasoning, not of verbatim biblical content in its totality. The Bible speaks of many things: slavery, homosexuality, forgiveness, commerce, retribution — its combined books designed to be a literal day-to-day guide for how one should live one’s life; for better or worse per the reader’s interpretation and proclivities. That Rotina Mama has found understanding and justification for her beliefs in the Bible is not invalidated by ill-advised attempts to flaunt one’s ability to blithely consult Google for a gotcha list of generalized
        statements made centuries before mankind began to understand the disease process in times when even the ‘learned’ peoples of the day believed that the lethal disease transmitted by mosquitoes was, in fact, caused not by a Culicidae but by “bad air” (mal-aria). How perfectly quaint that you have found absolution in the ‘perfection’ and ‘completion’ of our knowledge today that you can offer such wisdom my dear Torquemada.

        I will leave Mr. Henderson to his own conclusions, but I for one do not find it the charge of Pastafarianism to be one of belittling, self righteous indignation, or “religion bashing”. I consider it the pursuit of applied reason tempered by a love of liberty and allowing those we share this earth with to pursue their own truths. But perhaps yours is such a mind that you can claim sole providence on that which is known and that which is truth. Given the poor history of individuals making such a claim that have preceded the living you will forgive me if I take my leave of you until such time as your majesty can be confirmed. Your comment will likely harden opposition, close minds that would have otherwise been open, and serves only to preach to the converted (pun FULLY intended).

        • TiltedHorizon says:

          So I make a comment which about literalism in the bible and you somehow read it as belittling, self righteous indignation, and “religion bashing”? When someone says hello to you are you the type who answers:”WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT!?!”

          I recommend decaf and a good night sleep. POE?

        • theFewtheProudtheMarinara says:

          “How perfectly quaint that you have found absolution in the ‘perfection’ and ‘completion’ of our knowledge today…” But wait! If the Buybull is the word of god, doesn’t this imply that he didn’t / doesn’t know the nature of his own creation?

          I do agree, however, that the Buybull should be “a literal day-to-day guide for how one should live one’s life”. I plan on stoning the next person I see working on the Sabbath; probably the paperboy.

          “allowing those we share this earth with to pursue their own truths” sounds high-minded, but that means jihadists have the right to slaughter us infidels, doesn’t it?

        • Attila the Bun says:

          Where the hell did that come from, JT? Who pissed in your cereal? And why in the Name did you decide to loose your venom on Rotini Mama for things that apparently only exist in your head?

          Nice attempt to bludgeon her into submission by the use of big words, most of which I’ll wager you don’t understand. Your logorrheic sesquepedalianism just makes you look like a pretentious ass with a Word of the Day calendar, and it doesn’t impress me, or anyone else with an education. Eschew it.

    • Spammyboy says:

      You’re trying to look at it logically. Once you have one illogical premise, all other premises follow on from that, illogically.

      • AwesomeEpic says:

        rAmen Attila, thanks for saying what I was just about to post myself.

  7. Atsap Revol says:

    Another example of the superstitious, mindless actions of “true believers.” While the child might have died even with medical care, we will never know because the parents denied this option. This is not the first time people in this Oregon City sect have been convicted of manslaughter for allowing a child to die because of failure to get medical attention.

    I hope the judge gives the parents maximum prison sentences of six years to emphasize the zero tolerance society should have for such neglect. Those that believe in the healing power of prayer should practice it in the waiting room of the hospital emergency room.


    • Brian Fritzen says:

      And these people claim Abortion is murder.

  8. puppygoogoo says:

    Sad, just so sad. As a father i seek medical advice when my child is sick. just like i wouldn’t trust faith to help me build a house, boat, car, etc, i would seek professionals to do it. Hopefully, as mentioned previously, these people aren’t made into martyrs.

    good to be back


    • Atsap Revol says:

      Welcome back, puppygoogoo. We always miss it when a long-time contributor drops out. Wonder what ever happened to Danimal?


      • puppygoogoo says:


    • opiesysco says:

      This story just reminds me of the quote: “Two hand working does more than 1000 hands praying”
      There are just too many of these stories today. This is one pratice I will never understand.

      • puppygoogoo says:


        The saying doesnt make sense due to this mystical ‘thing’ called logic. It seems to be a rare thing these days so be careful….lol

        • Wench Melody (UK) says:

          Poor child – yet another innocent victim of the societal disease known as religion. I look at the children in my family and wonder how anyone, especially any parent, could possibly allow harm to come to these intensely vulnerable, vastly lovable little people. Sometimes I despair …

          M X

        • Metal Head says:

          Melody, it concerns me when people refer to religion as a disease. I see it as a symptom, not the problem. That is to say that religion and other irrational thought structures are natural products of humanity in its current stage of societal evolution.

          As are the “us and them” mentality, “group think”, and other products of collective ego, as illustrated not only in religion, but political affilations, nationalism (“our well-being is more important important than theirs”), racism, and even hostility over choice of sports teams with which people identify.

          I don’t regard religion as being an enemy, nor it’s presence as some sort of unnatural atrocity. On the contrary, its presence is very telling of the state of its subscribers, as well as society at large, and in that limited sense, is useful. How can a doctor diagnose an illness when the symptoms are suppressed, and not spoken of?

        • Metal Head says:

          Oops…”its”, not “it’s”

      • God says:

        Only 1000 hands? Hands locked in prayer are idle, all the worlds hands would be shamed by the two put to actual use.

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